The coronavirus situation is an opportunity for everyone to develop their digital skills, but has also highlighted the digital divide, according to early conclusions of an online survey launched by the European Commission to identify the impact of the pandemic on Vocational Education and Training (VET).
The survey was opened on 18 March, and an overview of the 252 responses received by 24 April has now been published.
Responses show that all countries are setting up online environments, ranging from using very simple messaging services such as WhatsApp (e.g. when learners do not have a computer at home) or through other more elaborate IT learning platforms or even using national television for broadcasting and replacing usual classroom lessons. It is also an opportunity to promote and further explore some existing eLearning materials and tools for creating them.
“On the positive side, this extraordinary situation is an opportunity for everyone to develop or deepen their digital skills. However, it also underlines the digital divide and the inequality and disadvantage this creates for households and learners that do not have access to computers and Internet,” the preliminary findings say.
Among the suggestions for trainers and policy makers was that, “This crisis is the stimulus to become more digital in the future. At the same time, attention should be paid to the time spent online by learners, to avoid they disconnect from the ‘real world’.” They also highlighted the need for online modules to teach digital skills to teachers, trainers, coaches and mentors.
Respondents urged the European Commission to engage with employers and social partners to share their material online or to produce digital learning tools, to develop and fund virtual simulation systems for VET, even if they can’t replace fully the real workplace learning, and create on an online platform a VET Section for Vocational Online Open Courses (VOOC).
You can find a list of different resources collected through the survey and other sources here. Many general collaboration tools exist, which are available in several languages, as well as many platforms that facilitate the creation of digital content.